440c vs Vg10

Discussion in 'General Knife Discussion' started by Hermit_Knight, Apr 17, 2018.

  1. Hermit_Knight


    Mar 19, 2018
    Hey all I’m just wanting to know what is the tougher steel if both have a good heat treatment, 440C or VG10? Thanks all!
    TTpower likes this.
  2. knarfeng

    knarfeng senex morosus moderator Staff Member Super Mod Moderator

    Jul 30, 2006
    Neither of those alloys is known for its toughness.
    Cutting, yes. Chopping, no.
    If I had to guess, I would say VG10 because of it's finer grain structure.
  3. dkb45

    dkb45 Gold Member Gold Member

    Dec 16, 2012
    For toughness, it might be VG-10 like Knarfeng said, finer grain structure and more alloying generally leads to higher toughness. For edge retention I've had moderately poor performance from VG-10, I've found that 440C stays sharper longer (while I haven't ran a knife in either steel from sharp to dull), but I will say I'm outwardly just not a big fan of VG-10, so bias could play a role.
    jux t likes this.
  4. Lapedog


    Dec 7, 2016
    I thought 440c could be fairly tough due to its lower carbide count? Definitely not when compared to carbon steels or specialized stainless or semi stainless which are focused on toughness. However I had thought it could still be decently tough.
  5. Agith


    Nov 29, 2010
    From my experience, 440c does not hold an edge very well. However it is a pretty tough steel which can be brought back to an edge with extreme ease. However, I do know for a fact that VG 10 is prone to chipping and damage, which is why companies like Fallkniven choose to laminate it to account for its relative brittleness in hard use.

    With that said, VG-10 in my experience has held a better edge than 440c, but there is no guarantee that it was the steel and not the heat treatment which was the cause for that.
  6. shqxk


    Mar 26, 2012
    While Im not a big fan of 440c it is actually pretty tough... or at least tougher than people give credit for.

    I have done some bend test with 0.24 thick as-quenched 440c with HRC over 60.5 and it can be bend to over 30 deegree without breakage. The piece is only 9" long. Only a few carbon can so the same.

    I use 1900F aus temp and salt pot marquenching tho.
  7. The Mastiff

    The Mastiff

    Apr 21, 2006
    I believe Spyderco's CATRA test had VG 10 in front of 440C wear resistance wise. 440C is no slouch when it comes to abrasive wear resistance. VG10 will do the high hardness stuff better as well because of it's better grain structure. 440C is known for being fairly poor in edge stability because of the high chrome (17-18%) and the alternates in it's class all do better. VG10/Aus 10/ATS 34/154cm are all fairly close in performance when it comes to wear resistance and all having been created after 440C were designed to do better as far as grain structure and edge stability. They are very close to or ahead of 440C in wear resistance also but not by all that much.The powder steel versions are going to do even better CPM 154/RWL 34 because of their powder process. Carpenters CTS 40CP is essentially powder 440C. It should do better than 440C in edge stability while keeping the corrosion resistance that 440C is known for and the others gave up some of to have the better grain structure. I have no experience with CTS 40CP though so it is just what I've read about it.

    Last edited: Apr 17, 2018
    4mer_FMF likes this.
  8. The Mastiff

    The Mastiff

    Apr 21, 2006
    "which is why companies like Fallkniven choose to laminate it to account for its relative brittleness in hard use."

    The lamination does not change the edge because it does not go that far. Lamination is usually done for other reasons.

    115Italian, Pilsner and Mikel_24 like this.
  9. Mikel_24


    Sep 19, 2007
    I heard it was done for ease of sharpening, blade (not edge) toughness and (maybe) saving $$ on the better steel (the core). I could be wrong, though.

  10. The Mastiff

    The Mastiff

    Apr 21, 2006
    There can be a few different reasons. It could be better corrosion resistance. In one case I know of the manufacturer wanted something that could be stamped. VG 10 can be tough to stamp, wear out the tooling faster, etc. The softer lamination sides make that easier. Maybe that is the only stuff available at that time from the that was rolled the right thickness. Any of a number of reasons are possible and the knife manufacturers usually don't give info like that out. I'm not sure if it's easier to straighten out if it warps. I know polishing and finishing the laminating steel ( usually a 420 or equivalent steel) is easier than finishing high wear 1% carbon or higher stainless steels. That effects the bottom line and cost.
    Mikel_24 likes this.
  11. Jhansenak47

    Jhansenak47 Gold Member Gold Member

    Nov 27, 2005
    I always wondered if it was cheaper to use a thinner VG-10 sheet and laminate it with 420j2. Regardless of their motivations they do claim the laminated VG-10 has increased toughness over the solid VG-10 variant.
  12. 115Italian


    Nov 13, 2015
  13. bikerector

    bikerector KnifeMaker / Craftsman / Service Provider Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Nov 16, 2016
    I've been using an HK (by benchmade) feint in 440c for a lot of chopping, including dried ash, and it's held up better than I was expecting. I don't know how long that will last but it's worked well for limbing and taking down minor trees, enough that I would trust it in my bushraft/extended hiking kit. However, I do have a swamp rat now that's better designed for the hard task so I won't have the feint unless I need a lightweight option as it's about a 1/2 pound lighter.

    I've heard VG-10 is on the chippier side so I would think VG-10 is less adequate for toughness tasks but these are purely anecdotal. I think Jay fisher is a big fan, excessively so, of 440c.

  14. Therom


    Nov 13, 2013
    Based only on personnal experiences I prefer VG10 over 440C.
    440C has be tougher and harder than VG10 so in may be better for some of your usages, but for EDC I clearly prefer VG10 as I found it easier to sharper and to maintain
  15. arty


    Oct 18, 2003
    VG10 is tougher and holds an edge much longer in my experience. I have used a number of knives in both steels. You can make any edge too thin to hold up, and edge/blade geometry is most important. I have a Western Deba in VG10 that has a convex, thick edge and will slit large numbers of lobster tails (more than 30-40) before it needs sharpening. Try that with a thin bladed Gyoto in the same steel and you will get immediate chipping. I have used a butcher knife in 1095 to slit lobster tails and the shells dull the blade after just one session of 5 or so tails.
    There are tougher stainless steels than these two, but even a tougher stainless, like S35V will chip out of the edge is ground too thin. I have a North Arms bird and trout in S35V that I use in the kitchen. It was shipped to me with a 25 degree inclusive edge. It showed chipping. A secondary bevel eliminated the problem. My kitchen and fillet knives in S35V have proven to be better if a tough edge is wanted, when sharpened correctly.
  16. whp


    Apr 26, 2009
    I also haven t been impressed with vg10, so I might be biased, but it has been so long since I used a knife with 440c that I can t compare.
  17. midnight flyer

    midnight flyer Basic Member Basic Member

    Jan 12, 2009
    Academically, it is fine to argue percentage points of steel formulas and to compare them using perfect conditions such as quoting those formulas for the steel only. There is a lot to consider with steels these days, not the least being heat treat, grind angle, edge angle, and of course the question of it the product you are buying is "an equivalent" steel. I have two different knives that I used for years in 440C, a Buck and a Browning. They easily perform as well as some of the "super steels" I have purchased decades later.

    My experience with VG10 has been limited, but the results have been up and down. I have never used either steel as anything other than cutter/slicers.

    Personally, for different reasons supporting each steel, I think I would concentrate more on the knife maker, the design, and the heat treat/blade grind of a knife when comparing these two steels. Done well, I would think you would be happy with either steel.

    afishhunter likes this.
  18. GermanyChris


    Feb 18, 2015
    I had a Benchmade 522 in 440C and have an Endura in VG-10 if forced to choose one of those I'd take the Benchmade and it's 440C
  19. justjed


    Oct 23, 2010
    Straight up, for anything over 8" I want a better steel than either 440C or VG-10, and preferably non-stainless. That said, for an EDC knife, I prefer VG-10, it gets sharper easier, in my experience, and holds an edge well enough for me. There's nothing wrong with 440C, tho, it makes as good a knife now as did in 1972, or whenever it was THE super-steel. Europe LOVES 440C to this day! It's just that much easier to work, whether by hand or machine, the heat treat holds no great mysteries, and it's about the most widely available quality stainless steel that's still reasonably affordable. What's not to like?
  20. The Mastiff

    The Mastiff

    Apr 21, 2006
    "What's not to like?"

    The way it compares to other more modern stainless steels that have better wear resistance, edge stability and toughness. Why would I buy 440C when I can get steels that do what I like better and for the same price. 440C isn't much different in cost to steels like 154cm, ats34,VG 10 etc. . The cost to heat treat, grind and finish isn't all that different. They can be heat treated on the same equipment etc.. In other words it's not a bad steel it's just been passed by. It's one of the least edge stable steels in it's wear resistance performance class and that makes a difference to me because I like the thinnest, highest sharpness edges I can have that still will do the job without chipping out. Grain structure matters to me.

    Last edited: Apr 18, 2018
    Hermit_Knight likes this.

Share This Page